SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

How long is too long for PB word counts?

Discussion started on

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region brazosvalley
Do any of you have strong opinions on how long is too long for picture book? I just submitted a PB manuscript to a publisher and it is over 2,500 words. I still believe it works best in a picture book format, but I wonder if the length is going to give editors pause. I imagine it like Patricia Polacco's books, with lots of words but lots of big beautiful illustrations, not just an image here and there. Should I have pitched it as an early reader?
#1 - February 23, 2016, 03:09 PM
Vanessa Everett Howard
vanessaehoward.com
"Children are not a distraction from more imporant work. They are the most important work." -C.S. Lewis

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Hi Vanessa,

My intel is that PBs around 400 words are in fashion these days. I love some of the longer (earlier) PBs, though, and hope they make a comeback. As to pitching it as an early reader, your word count is very long, and the words in early readers need to be written for kids just learning to sound out words. Based on what you've said, maybe a chapter book format would work. Good luck!

Jody
#2 - February 23, 2016, 03:37 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, BUSY BUS series, EMERGENCY KITTENS, and more!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region brazosvalley
Thanks for the reply. I think you're right. I haven't imagined it as a chapter book, but I think it could definitely work that way. I hope the publisher who now has it doesn't dismiss it out of hand. This publisher does have a number of books like this in its catalog - longer-format, educational, picture books. Still hoping!
#3 - February 23, 2016, 05:14 PM
Vanessa Everett Howard
vanessaehoward.com
"Children are not a distraction from more imporant work. They are the most important work." -C.S. Lewis

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region ksmo
Absolutely! Never say never! Good luck!
#4 - February 23, 2016, 06:36 PM
PRUDENCE, THE PART-TIME COW, A CHIP OFF THE OLD BLOCK, BUSY BUS series, EMERGENCY KITTENS, and more!
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region westcentny
Hi Vanessa -- I think that when you query your 2500-word picture book, if you use Patricia P. as a comp and the other longer PBs that the publisher has published, it will show that you are aware of its length and that it has a certain place in the market.

But if the publishers give you rejections with feedback that they are looking for shorter PBs, and you are open to revising it as an illustrated chapter book, then a revision for that angle might be worth a shot.

Good luck!
#5 - February 23, 2016, 06:58 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

Chief Administrator
Administrator
Poster Plus
  • ****
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region inlandnw
Yes, to what everyone else has already said. All of the editors I've spoken with and heard speak in the past couple of years are looking for Picture Book texts under 500 words. I agree that an early chapter book might be a better format for your manuscript. Good luck!
#6 - February 23, 2016, 10:51 PM
Verla Kay

Blueboard Problems? Use the Contact A Moderator link in the menu at the top of the message board.

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
 :exactly You have already gotten great advice here.

My only additional advice is to reread your PB very closely. Is the longer word count necessary? Are there words there that could be shown by the illustrations? Are you showing vs. telling? Have you had CPs read it and see if there is room for cuts?

:stars3  :goodluck

#7 - February 23, 2016, 11:13 PM
Vehicle Dreams Series-RPKids '16 -'18
(Fire Truck, Bulldozer, Race Car)
Rainy Day Picnic-Read Your Story '18
The Sparrow and The Trees- Arbordale '15

Admins and Mods Emeriti
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region epa
Is it nonfiction or fiction? At that length, fiction would be more like a chapter book than a picture book. For nonfiction, you could definitely find comparable titles that are intended for elementary school children, grades 3 and up.
#8 - February 24, 2016, 08:20 AM
Kell Andrews
www.kellandrews.com
Twitter @kellandrewsPA

THE BOOK DRAGON, Sterling, October 2, 2018
MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE, Sterling, 2016

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Seconding Schriscoe and adding that there are places on these boards where you can seek a critique or critique partners if you haven't done so before now. Sometimes it's hard for us to see our own extra words. Also, have you created a 32 or 40 page dummy of the book. (Please note 40 pagers are harder for companies to market because they are more expensive to produce and therefore to buy in stores.) Meanwhile, all submissions are something of a shot in the dark. So good luck with it.
#9 - February 29, 2016, 11:46 AM
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 02:13 PM by Debbie Vilardi »
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

author, critiquer, story coach
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region canadaeast
As everyone else has mentioned 2500 is very long for a picture book, even for a 40-page picture book. Sometimes they are more flexible with informational picture books but even those rarely go over 1300 or so, at 40 pages. Do consider revising it as a chapter book -- I've done this twice, successfully, with longer picture book manuscripts at the suggestion of editors and have ended up selling them as chapter books -- but remember that your picture book manuscript would have been read by adults and chapter books are more often read by children. This'll mean -- you guessed it! -- having a good hard look at vocabulary, sentence flow, and so on -- and you'll likely want to add in a subplot and lengthen the story overall. But wow, will you have fun!! Good luck!
#10 - March 03, 2016, 01:19 PM
most recent:
Walking in the City with Jane: A Story of Jane Jacobs-pb nf
What Happens Next-pb
Time To (series)-bb
Up!-pb nf
Making Canada Home -mgnf

Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Oh, my. That is way too long. But how about a chapter book? Anything over 500 words these days is too long. I'm sure that's what everyone else has said too.  :yourock
#11 - March 03, 2016, 01:42 PM

This is very useful info. I'm a newcomer to PBs, and I believe I've made a mistake already. I have a 1,600-word non-fiction/story-type picture book, or what I thought might be a PB. What is a chapter book, or what type of book would I generally have here at this length? It's a tiny, tiny bit technical, called The Mysteries of the Ranch La Brea Tar Pits. I guess that's an education story?
#12 - March 31, 2016, 03:00 PM

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
You might want to spend some time going back and reading threads to bring yourself a little more up to speed--try the Chapter Book board (https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=243.0) and Non-Fiction board (https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?board=243.0) as well as topics her on the Picture Book board.
#13 - March 31, 2016, 03:32 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com


Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Chris, it's also a good idea to hit the book store and library and find books like the ones you've written or want to write. You can sometimes use Amazon's concordance or Ren Learning (http://www.arbookfind.com/default.aspx) to get a word count for each book. This will help you make sure yours fits. Use recent books, published within the last three years, for the best results. Older books may have met different standards than what's coming out today.
#15 - April 04, 2016, 06:47 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.